As Project Green Course comes to a close, we reflect on everything we’ve learned and the incredible activism that has come as a result of our time together. This is the first time Turning Green has run a formal course on environmental action and justice, and we are so grateful to every student, speaker, facilitator and TA for making it such an incredible pilot.
Over the past 15 weeks, we have heard from 22 speakers from many different professions, including government officials, scientists, artists, chefs, documentary filmmakers, activists, and more.
During the first section of the course, we learned how to Activate Our Voice, Tell Environmental Stories, and Energize Our Leadership. Speakers such as Matt Scott and JP Tamvada showed students how to use storytelling to mobilize community, inspire action, and encourage innovation.
Then, we focused on The Nexus of Footprint & Climate Justice, Food, Farming & Stewardship, Water Innovation, and Ocean Solutions. As we geared up for Climate Action Projects, our guest speakers spoke on Ethical Business, Social Entrepreneurship, and Nature as a Design Blueprint.
We heard from diverse perspectives around the world, from India to Africa to New Zealand. Dr. Debbie Raphael, Dr. Jessica Shade, and Dr. Musonda Mumba told their experiences as women in STEM forging ahead in different fields, from policymaking to working in the nonprofit sector.
Our food and agriculture week included a special cooking class with Chef Kabui, where we made a rice and bean dish that was customizable based on the ingredients each student had on hand. It was a fun and delicious way to learn about food!
Students discussed issues facing our oceans and freshwater resources; artist and scientist Ethan Estess showed us how he has combined his two interests together to educate the public about ocean protection and preservation.
These weeks of learning and sharing laid a beautiful groundwork for the students to then begin work outside the classroom framework. As Stephen Kirk, a PGCourse and Master’s student from the UK, says, “Knowledge as a form of power can shape the local discourse.” And now, all students have applied knowledge, skills and context gained during the course to actively shape discourse and outcomes in their communities.
The cohort is playing to their strengths and passions with individual Climate Action Projects (CAPs), which are being implemented by each PGCourse student prior to the close of the semester. Some have been conducting environmental research and creating scientific reports, while others are working with children and educating people on a local level.
Amarachi Onyena, a Ph.D. candidate and lecturer at the University of Lagos in Nigeria, is publishing an evaluation of water quality and eco-health risk assessment index from highly oil-contaminated sites in the Niger Delta region. This work is crucial, as Amarachi explains:
“In Nigeria, crude oil and refined products have been identified as critical causal factors for water pollution in coastal communities including communities in the Gbaramatu Kingdom. However, little effort has been made to address the recurring water pollution in coastal communities with high crude oil spills. This study will provide a framework for water needs in coastal communities. In addition, it will serve as a tool for prioritizing water provision and pollution mitigation in coastal communities.”
Srna Majstorovic, who has been a scout leader for many years and loves spending time researching fauna in unprotected forests, is creating and hosting a four-day camp for high school students in the mountains of Macedonia to learn and connect with the environment. Srna’s project comes from her own experiences as a student who fell in love with the environment, and she hopes to inspire other young leaders. She says:
“I wanted to give every single scout the information and mentorship they need to stand their ground and say that biodiversity is valuable.”
The seeds that have been planted in Project Green Course are being spread around the world, literally! Caesar Belchez, a college student in Pennsylvania, will be “seed bombing,” planting native species guerilla-style in his neighborhood and educating the community about biodiversity. He says:
“This project has a vision of bringing back a vibrant population of bees, butterflies, and pollinators, by providing areas where insects can thrive among plants that provide them food and shelter, protected by a community that disapprove the use of chemical pesticides and herbicides that harm not only these insects, but also humans and animals.”
Although our virtual classes will come to a close, the PGCourse community will continue to inspire and mobilize each other and people the world over, as well as further the impact of Climate Action Projects. Cecilia Begal, a university student in the Netherlands, says that a highlight of the course has been “engaging with young leaders from all over the world and seeing how little – and yet how much – it takes to build something great!”
PGCourse truly has built something great! All of us at Turning Green have been moved by the passion and commitment of everyone involved in building year one, and will continue onwards toward a better, healthy, just future — as we craft and plan for year two of Project Green Course with a growing global cohort of leaders.
Stay tuned for how you can apply for, share, support and be involved in PGCourse.